Next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix will mark a special date in the history of McLaren as the team celebrates its fiftieth birthday at Monza following its incarnation in 1963.
Founded by Bruce McLaren, the team made its debut in 1966 before winning its first title in 1974 with Emerson Fittipaldi. The team has become a mainstay in the sport and is one of the most successful outfits not to be backed by a major customer car manufacturer (such as Ferrari, Renault or Mercedes). Current team principal Martin Whitmarsh has expressed his excitement for the team’s birthday next weekend.
“This year’s Italian Grand Prix will be a very special weekend for the whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, as it’ll be the race where we celebrate our 50th anniversary – a landmark for any sporting organisation, let alone a Grand Prix team,” he explained.
“Since the formation of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd in September 1963, and our Formula One debut at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, no F1 team has won more races than McLaren – an incredible record.”
Despite Monza being home to Ferrari and its loyal fans, the Tifosi, Whitmarsh is pleased to be celebrating the landmark at such a historic circuit.
“It’s appropriate that we’ll be marking the passage of time at a circuit that is both venerable and yet eternally evergreen: in terms of history, nothing really comes close to Monza in terms of capturing the spirits past of motor racing,” the team principal said.
Incidentally, today would have been Bruce McLaren’s 76th birthda. The team founder died at the age of 32 in a Can-Am accident at Goodwood Circuit in England.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.